Archive for the ‘Karl Malone’ Category

The Utah Jazz are very happy to announce, that we’re going to bring a Mailman...”
-Frank Layden, June 18, 1985.

Karl Malone Pay It Forward - Jazzbasketball

It’s pretty incredible how those 15 words would begin a marriage between one person and one franchise that despite a few bumpy stretches is still intact and going strong 28 years later.

I’ve written extensively how Karl Malone could help Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter become better basketball players, but perhaps equally important are the ways Karl Malone could help Utah’s young players off the basketball court.

Karl Malone is his own man, who blazed many new trails on his way to becoming the league’s #2 all-time leading scorer and the greatest power forward in NBA history. During an 18-year NBA career he made Salt Lake City his home and became a foundation in the community. He lived out many of his dreams from being a truck driver, to professional wrestling, to owning a hunting cabin in the Alaskan wilderness. And he did it all while playing for the Jazz and living in Utah.

This is important because Utah fans have a deep-seeded fear of rejection from professional athletes. Perhaps starting with Derek Harper, further perpetuated by the likes of Miami residents Rony Seikaly and Carlos Boozer, and culminated in Deron Williams’ 2011 pre-emptive trade – Jazz fans have developed a phobia that great players will always want to leave Utah for brighter lights. There are already some fans who would prefer the Jazz land Jabari Parker in the 2014 NBA draft rather than Andrew Wiggins because of the notion that Parker’s faith (LDS) would make him more likely than Wiggins to embrace playing in Utah.

Presently Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors are eligible to sign long-term extensions prior to becoming restricted free agents in 2014. Alec Burks and Enes Kanter will be in the same position next offseason, and Utah has just added collegiate player of the year and Ohio-native Trey Burke.

With Malone back in the fold, the Jazz now have someone who not only can teach how to establish post position and run lanes wide – but also to tell how an NBA player can embrace Salt Lake City as a home where having a successful professional career, starting a family, and gaining fame and notoriety is all within their grasp. Even Brooklyn star PG Deron Williams, regarded by some as a Jazz-villain, still makes Utah his home in the offseason.

Salt Lake City will never become a free agent hot-spot, but it certainly won’t hurt to shake the ignorant misconceptions that professional athletes don’t want to play there and Malone is a great spokesman for that.

2013-14 Utah Jazz


Karl Malone wasn’t perfect – he could be moody, he spoke his mind sometimes to a fault and made errors in judgment – but he owned up to his mistakes. He did it all in the public eye, where he matured from the 22-year old rookie who arrived from Louisiana in 1985 to the 50-year old man who still flies in to Utah periodically for business.

While it came as a surprise to us all back in May that Jazz CEO Greg Miller had patched things up with Karl to the point that they were both willing to work together to bring Malone in as a bigman coach – it’s not surprising that the Mailman is throwing his (cowboy) hat into the coaching ring.

In February of 2011, one day after Hall-of-Fame head coach Jerry Sloan retired* (*was forced out), Karl Malone gave his word that he would honor Sloan’s career by passing lessons learned from Jerry on. Speaking with reporters at Energy Solutions Arena, Malone said “At some point in my life, I will carry [Jerry Sloan’s] legacy on in some form of coaching, and that’s a promise.”

From his lengthy phone interview on 1280 The Zone in May, Malone stated he not only wants to teach Utah’s bigmen how to play, but also how to give back. The concept of giving more than was given to you is something that Malone has touched on several times over the past 15 years. It was mentioned in his closing remarks of a 2001 Beyond The Glory documentary, reiterated the night in 2006 he had his Jazz jersey retired and again at his Hall-of-Fame induction speech in 2010.

Karl Malone made himself into a great player without the hands-on mentorship of a former great to guide him. Now he’s offering to share his knowledge, expertise and time to make the Jazz a better franchise.

Malone threw down somewhat of a gauntlet in a recent interview with Brad Rock of the Deseret News where he stated that “without a doubt” both Favors and Kanter have All-Star potential. “These guys have the talent to be as good or as great as they want to be,” Malone said. He had touted Favors earlier in the summer, saying “the skill set he’s got is absolutely unbelievable.”

That statement along with Malone’s comments back in May and tutorials that include a summer trip to Louisiana as well as recent post-practice lessons with the Mailman back in Utah all make one thing obvious:

Karl Malone is not only challenging them to be the best they possibly can be as players, but also as people – and that’s something we all should strive for.


To close, it’s important to remember that while it’s completely unfair to expect Trey Burke to be the next John Stockton or Favors and Kanter to be the next Karl Malone, there are a lot of things that can be taken from Stockton and Malone as both athletes and people that can help young players maximize their potential. Burke, Favors and Kanter all are different athletes with their own styles, games and personalities – but having two of the best ever to help teach them should have nothing but positive affects over the next few seasons.

28 years after they first became Utah Jazz teammates, Stockton&Malone are still helping the Jazz organization try to achieve greatness – along with Jerry Sloan. That famed trio never won the elusive ring they sought year after year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have an effect on the Jazz one day competing for a title in the future. Never underestimate those guys – they’re pretty special.

John Stockton Karl Malone Jerry Sloan #1

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In honor of Karl Malone turning 50 today, I will be giving away 50 Karl Malone basketball cards. They will be broken down into three respective 16, 17 and 17 card sets awarded to 3 different winners.


To win this free 17-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #3

Who assisted Karl Malone on the final dunk of his Utah Jazz career? (including regular season and playoffs)

UPDATE 11:04PM MT (1:04AM ET): The correct answer was Greg Ostertag. Congratulations to Cman26!

Post answer in comment section below with a valid email address. The first correct response wins. Previous winners are not eligible.


To win this free 17-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #2

What was the year and opponent of the final 40-point game of Karl Malone’s career (including regular season, preseason & playoffs)?

UPDATE 7:17PM MT (9:17PM ET): The correct answer is 3/12/03 at the Orlando Magic. Congratulations to Kurt! Please check your email.

Post answer in comment section below with valid email address. The first correct reply wins. Previous winner(s) are not eligible.

The last trivia opportunity will be posted here later tonight at 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET).


To win this free 16-card Karl Malone set, be the first to answer the following Karl Malone trivia question:

Karl Malone Cards Lot #1

In how many regular season games did Karl Malone score 50 points or more in his NBA career?

Post answer in comment section below with valid email address. The first correct reply wins.

UPDATE 5:40PM MT (7:40PM ET): The correct answer is indeed “4.” Congratulations to Dixon! Please check your email.

The next two opportunities to win will be posted here later tonight at 7:00 PM MT (9:00 PM ET) and 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET).

Thanks for participating and Happy Birthday Mailman!

Karl Malone reading Jazz media guide 2002-03

Requirements: Must have valid email address and respond to my email with shipping/mailing address within 48 hours. Limit 1 card set per person.

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Karl Malone - Happy 50th Birthday


In honor of Karl Malone turning 50 today, I will be giving away 50 FREE Karl Malone basketball cards.

Karl Malone Basketball Card Giveaway

They will be broken down into 16, 17 and 17 card lots for a total of 50 divided amongst 3 different winners.

Tonight at 5:00 PM MT (7:00 PM ET), 7:00 PM MT (9:00 PM ET), and 9:00 PM MT (11:00 PM ET), I will be posting 3 Karl Malone trivia questions here at Jazzbasketball. The first person to answer each question correctly in the comment section wins.

Requirements: Must have valid email address and respond to my email with a mailing address within 48 hours. Limit 1 card set per person.


Today wraps up a week-long marathon of Jazzbasketball Karl Malone content. Here are quick-links to the past 7 days of Malone posts and videos.


Low-Post Scoring
Perimeter Shooting
Individual Defense
Running The Floor
Pick&Roll Ability


42 Points at Lakers – 1997 Conference Semifinals – Game 4
1998 Family Life of Karl Malone
1999 Karl Malone on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
41 Points at 76ers – 12/20/00
2001 Karl Malone cooking on The Food Network
2002 Karl Malone and John Stockton Feature


Karl Malone is the primary reason I became a Utah Jazz fan. Growing up I knew both Karl and John Stockton were great players, but it wasn’t until my teens that I truly appreciated Stock’s greatness at the same level of Malone’s. Initially Karl’s ability to score with grace and power is what drew me in and for most of my life was my favorite professional athlete to follow. Growing up I would record Jazz games, study Karl’s moves and then go out in my driveway and practice them over-and-over. I know his game inside out and as a result have nothing but admiration and appreciation for his ability, his effort, his work ethic and his competitiveness.

Above all, Karl Malone was human – and in my opinion a good one at that. We aren’t drawn to professional athletes because they’ve made perfect decisions throughout their lives – we’re drawn to them because of their athletic abilities and talents. Karl made mistakes, as we all do. However he owned up to them, remained true to himself, was extremely generous with both his time and money, and perhaps most importantly – he was real. You knew that what you saw was who he was – that was something we could all relate to.

Michael Jordan certainly isn’t any great philanthropist, but he was a once-in-a-generation talent and ESPN dedicated seemingly an entire week in February for MJ’s 50th birthday. Growing up I admired Karl Malone (still do), and it’s been a pleasure to spend the past week compiling and sharing my appreciation of Karl Malone.

Without him, there would certainly be fewer Jazz fans out there.
Happy birthday Karl, the greatest power forward to ever play the game. I know Malone’s caught plenty of fish, but he’s the one who hooked me on the Utah Jazz – and I wouldn’t trade them for any other team in the world. Along with John Stockton and Jerry Sloan, Karl made the Utah Jazz into a truly great franchise. Now as he works with Utah’s promising young bigs, let’s hope he can help make them great once again.

Karl Malone

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 6 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

For all of the diverse offensive skills (which have been covered extensively here over the past week) Karl Malone possessed that helped make him the second-leading scorer in NBA history, perhaps no play became as synonymous to the Mailman scoring than the pick-and-roll.

Of course, it’s impossible to talk about Karl Malone running screen-roll without mentioning his Hall-of-Fame pick&roll partner: John Stockton. Together, Stockton&Malone put on nearly a two decade-long clinic of how to run the pick&roll. Any type of defense they faced within the rules, they would counter and execute. It starts with Stockton, who had supreme court vision, the ability to pass accurately and quickly (thanks to his ability to pass off the dribble with one hand rather than two) and was an excellent shooter off the bounce. Malone always set a rock solid screen and combined his mobility, great hands and supreme ability to finish with both power and skill around the basket – was the ultimate finisher. Together, Stockton&Malone were simply unstoppable on the pick&roll.


Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #1a

In traditional side-screen roll, Stockton’s first read is always to go middle behind Malone’s screen – whose own read was to roll to the basket if the weakside help doesn’t come, or “pop” out on the baseline for the jumper if the help-defense rotates to shut off the paint.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #1b

Here Malone’s man shows out on Stockton and the weakside help is slow. Malone rolls unimpeded to the rim and skillfully finishes over Kobe who is late in his rotation.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2a

On this play, the Chicago Bulls force the pick&roll baseline (a defensive staple of Phil Jackson coached teams). Utah counters with Malone simply re-screening to allow Stockton to drive baseline. This forces Malone’s man to help on Stockton and allows Karl to turn and roll uncontested to the rim.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2b

Chicago’s weakside help defense is slow to react and Malone has a wide-open lane to drive for the hammer dunk.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #2c

Here in the same situation, Chicago’s help-defense reacts to clog the lane. As a result, instead of rolling – Malone simply pulls up from the elbow and drains the open 18-footer.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #3a

Here against Houston, Stockton’s man decides to go under on the screen so Stockton knows he’ll have a clean look from the foul line area if the big doesn’t show out.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #3b

The Rockets choose to stay with the screener (Malone), so Stockton simply pulls up and hits the open foul-line jumper.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #4a

After playing together for 10+ seasons, Stockton&Malone developed a sixth sense for knowing when to slip the screen. Here, they again show their standard side screen-roll.

Stockton-Malone Side Screenroll #4b

Instead of setting the screen, Malone slips right to the rim. Because Stockton could pass so well off-the-bounce, his trademark one-hand pass right by his defender’s ear leads Malone perfectly and the Mailman makes an excellent one-handed catch on the move and promptly finishes strong at the rim for a three-point play.


As Doug Collins said, “Whatever you show them, they counter it.” In the 90’s most offenses in the NBA were based more on isolation and post-ups than predominantly screen-roll. Now in 2013, with rule changes virtually every successful team relies on running the pick&roll to some degree of success. Guards are taught the nuances of the play at much earlier ages, and come into the league more skilled in that area. Nevertheless, the pick&roll bar set by Stockton&Malone has yet to be eclipsed. They did it longer, better, and more proficiently than any other duo in NBA history. Everyone knew it was coming, and they still couldn’t stop it.

Stockton and Malone PickandRoll #1

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 5 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

Karl Malone not only made himself into a versatile scorer, he made himself into one of the best passing bigs in the game.

Despite the fact that much of Utah’s offense ran directly through Karl Malone (in both the high-post and low-post), the Jazz were still able to move the ball beautifully and keep everyone involved. That is a testament to Utah’s system which utilized Malone’s offensive presence to create a deadly combination that coupled constant off-ball movement with the Mailman’s deft passing ability.

Guard Split #1

1. After feeding Malone in the post, Utah’s perimeter players stayed in motion. Here Utah runs their split-action with #34 Chris Morris feeding the post, then setting an off-ball screen for Howard Eisley (circled). This forces the opponent to switch, with Kobe Bryant (red arrows) showing out on Howard Eisley. Morris sets the screen then slips to the basket.

Guard Split #2

2. Because Morris is coming ‘up’ to set the screen, he already has a positional advantage on the switch so all Malone has to do is lead him to the rim.

Guard Split #3

Karl Malone makes a perfect pass to Morris for a layup. Because teams now had to pay attention to Utah’s off-ball action, this in turn slowed down double-teaming and gave Malone more room to operate in the post.


Another staple of Utah’s low-post offense was the hard baseline cut by the post-feeder.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1a

Here, Chris Morris enters the ball to Malone, then makes a hard V-cut along the baseline.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1b

Morris’ man gets caught top-side which gives Malone and Morris an uncontested dribble-handoff.

Karl Malone baseline cut 1c

As a result, Morris is the recipient of a wide-open layup.

As with virtually everything in basketball, the defense will react and it is up to the offense to counter – and Malone and the Jazz did just that.

Karl Malone baseline cut 2a

Here, the post defender (#40 Kurt Thomas) sags back to take away the hard baseline cut. This causes Thomas to lose contact with Malone in the post and provides plenty of airspace for Malone to pivot and hit his patented turn-around jumpshot. This is a great example of how the passing ability of a low-post scorer actually creates a shot opportunity instead of the other way around.


Karl Malone averaged over 4 assists per game seven times during his illustrious career, and his ability to pass the basketball not only made his teammates better – it created even more offensive opportunities for himself.

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 4 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

After changing ends of the court to breakdown Karl Malone’s outstanding defense, let’s examine how the Mailman changed ends of the court by running the floor harder, faster and more consistently than any big man in the history of the NBA.
(Recommendation: As you watch this video, don’t “ball-watch.” Instead focus on Malone and note how hard he runs and how many opposing players he glides passed en route to the basket)

Most bigs will run hard only when they begin a possession with a positional advantage against their opponents’ transition defense. Karl Malone ran hard regardless of his starting point – and as a result ran himself to easy baskets simply by blowing past multiple defenders (and teammates) on his 94-foot sprint to the rim.

Karl Malone running the floor #1a

1. Here, Malone is further away from Utah’s basket than all 9 other players on the court when Utah gains possession.

Karl Malone running the floor #1b

2. Nevertheless, Malone gets a step on Scott Pollard and then blows past Chris Webber and two other Kings en route to a layup and 3-point play opportunity as Pollard arrives just in time to foul Malone but not prevent the basket.


Karl Malone not only ran hard, but he ran wide – which is becoming a lost art in today’s game. The Jazz’s inability to covert 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 fastbreaks was maddening at times last season, and while most fans automatically blame the ball-handler for the failures, the players filling the lanes are often just as much at fault if not more so.

Similar to running an option or bubble-screen to both the boundary side and field sides in college football (wider hashes compared to the pro game), running lanes wide in basketball stretches the defense laterally by forcing them to cover all the entire width of the field. Not only does it create better passing lanes, it can also creates room for the point guard to attack 1-on-1 in transition when the defense expands outward.

Karl malone running wide #1a

1. Here, Utah takes possession with Malone in the center of the court. Rather than take the easy route and plod directly down the middle (the shortest path between two points is a straight line, right?) Malone re-directs toward the sideline.

Karl malone running wide #1b

2. Malone runs the boundary, creating as much separation from the ball (which should ideally always stay in the middle of the floor on a break) as possible.

Karl malone running wide #1c

3. This forces the lone defender back (Avery Johnson – circled) to guard virtually 40-feet with two Jazz players filling the lanes wide. Stockton hits Malone on the wing for an easy layup.


One more example of “running wide” to help the passer and put extreme pressure on the defense.

Karl malone running wide #2a

1. Utah gets the rebound and rather than running a direct path to the Jazz basket, Malone veers out wide (about an extra 15-20 feet) to run parallel to the sideline.

Karl malone running wide #2b

2. This puts the lone defender back (Damon Stoudamire – circled) in a virtually impossible 2-on-1 situation, with a 25-30 foot lateral gap between the ball and Malone.

Karl malone running wide #2c

3. Because of Utah’s excellent floor-spacing on the break, Stoudamire is unable to play both the ball and the pass and Stockton has a clear passing window to hit Malone for the layup.


With Karl Malone back tutoring Utah’s bigs on a part-time basis, I look forward to seeing how Utah’s big guys fill the lane in the upcoming season – especially since it appears to be a point of emphasis that Karl made clear in his radio interview the day he and Greg Miller announced the Mailman’s new role.

Karl Malone teaching Derrick Favors

(courtesy of Jazzfanatical)


As the late Larry H. Miller often pointed out, Karl Malone not only ran hard to get easy baskets, he ran hard to set the tempo and punish his opponent.

Real observers of Karl will know that the real way he punishes an opponent is to get out on a fastbreak that they have no intenion of passing the ball to him, but his opponent doesn’t know that – so Karl will sprint down the court two or three times in succession – which to Karl is not that difficult but to most opponents – they can’t handle it …and they get to where it often renders them neutral on a couple of plays until they can [regain] their breath.” -Larry H. Miller, A First Class Life

Karl Malone was the best running big man in NBA history because he was not only relentless – but consistently faster, in better condition, and more aware of how to fill open lanes than his opponents. A lot of that is because Malone was a phenomenal athlete, but some of that can be learned and it would be awesome if a Derrick Favors or Enes Kanter can develop a similar understanding and mentality to punish their opponent not only with physicality, but with speed and cardiovascular endurance.

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Karl Malone on Jay Leno Show 1999

In June of 1999, Karl Malone made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, where he appeared multiple times throughout the late-90’s.

In many ways, Karl Malone’s rise to a celebrity status flies in the face of the myth that the small market Utah Jazz are unable to meet the needs of an NBA superstar. While Karl definitely embraced Utah as the perfect place to grow up and raise a family, he also wrestled, flew in fighter jets, made his own fitness video series, and made guest appearances on The Tonight Show as well as TV shows such as Nash Bridges – all while also making himself into the greatest power forward to ever play the game.

While the case can certainly be made more off-court opportunities are available in bigger markets, the bottom line is if you’re good enough at the game of basketball and intriguing enough as a public figure – opportunities will be available regardless of where you play.

In an era where the internet, social media, and satellite tv had yet to make many superstars as accessible to fans as they are today, the persona of Karl Malone was big enough that “playing in Utah” didn’t stifle his marketability. Karl Malone was able to play basketball at the highest possible level, become a celebrated public figure, and still live his life on his terms while playing in Utah for 18 seasons.

Instead of worrying about their “brand,” many of today’s star athletes could take a lesson from Karl Malone and focus more about being as good as they can possibly be, because if they have the game to back it up – they’ll reap the off-court benefits that come from being a superstar in the NBA. If you don’t have the game of a “superstar” but seek the notoriety of one, you’ll simply be exposed. And for what it’s worth, I haven’t seen any moody former Jazz point guards appear on any of the late shows recently.

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 3 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.
After revisiting the Mailman’s offensive repertoire, let’s switch ends of the floor and look back at Karl Malone’s outstanding defense – which earned him 1st-team All-Defensive honors three times (tied for most ever in franchise history) as well as a one 2nd-team honor.

At 6-foot-9, Karl Malone was never an above-the-rim shot-blocker. Instead, Karl played phenomenal fundamental and physical defense that forced turnovers and frustrated his opponents. Malone’s superior strength not only allowed him to defend elite centers, it made it extremely difficult for opponents to back him down in the post. Karl utilized this to his advantage, mastering the “pull-the-chair” technique. Malone would hold his position defensively and then suddenly give ground, causing the offensive player to lose his balance and travel.

The hallmark of Karl Malone’s defensive ability was his quick hands. He was notorious for stripping offensive players of the ball as they went up into their shot, and developed an uncanny ability to gauge an offensive player’s shot-pocket and meet the ball on the way up to force the tie-up. He was also an active pick&roll defender who depending upon Utah’s defensive strategy, could aggressively show-out off screens. For a player of his size and strength, Malone also moved his feet well laterally – as he was adept at sliding in front of his man to draw a abnormal number of charges off low-post plays.

Karl Malone not only delivered the mail at the offensive end, he also brought it at the defensive end as well – with defensive intensity, aggression, and double-digit rebounding. His technique and crafty maneuvers remain a prime example that just because a big man may not possess superior size or length, it is still possible to be an outstanding defender simply from hard work, intelligence, technique and effort.

Karl Malone strips Tim Duncan

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 2 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game.
In Part 1, we looked at Malone’s low-post game which made him virtually unguardable for opposing power forwards. As a result, teams began to defend Malone with their center (in an era where most starting centers in the NBA were atleast 7-feet tall). As was the case in the lowpost, the Mailman developed a counter to deliver against teams that tried to defend him with size. That counter was a perimeter face-up game that made Malone one of the most versatile bigmen to ever play.

On the left block, Karl utilized phenomenal footwork to go with a lethal jumpshot that wreaked havoc on even the NBA’s premier defending 5’s. Malone utilized the reverse pivot to perfection – which allowed him to square up to the basket from about 12-15 feet on the baseline and leave bigger defenders at his mercy. If they backed off Karl would sink the jumper in their grill (and because he could fade backward on his J, he could make shots that were perfectly contested with a hand in his face). When defenders closed out and played him tighter, that set them up for the blow-by on Malone’s hard baseline drives.

On the right block, Malone squared-up to the rim utilizing the “Jack Sikma move” – an inside reverse pivot and jumper – to perfection.

By the end of his career Malone had made himself into a deadly mid-range jumpshooter from virtually any spot on the court inside of 20-feet, but one spot he particularly loved was the high right elbow. In Utah’s UCLA set, the Jazz would send Stockton through on a shuffle-cut. Sometimes Stock would set a down-screen on Malone’s man but even when he cut though – because he cut hard it forced Malone’s man to sag down to take away an easy layup. As a result, Malone was able to catch the ball stepping back from 17-feet, swing the ball through and deliver the jumper. Again when teams closed out that set up Malone’s hard drive to the rim. If the jumper wasn’t there, Malone became a high-post passer with Utah executing their precision off-ball action (example: the PG running through, setting a backscreen for the 3, then springing free on the weakside off a curl).

Malone not only developed his jumpshot, he developed a myriad of ways to get it off. He could pumpfake to keep the defender off-balance and then go straight up into his shot, jabstep then step-back and shoot, and even became an effective shooter off the dribble (how many 260-pound all-stars could make 16-footers after putting the ball on the floor?). On occasion Malone even displayed a respectable 3-point shot. His 85 threes made over his final 15 seasons in Utah don’t amount to much (about 6 makes per season) until you consider Carlos Boozer has made 1 three-pointer in 12 seasons, Al Jefferson 3 in 9 seasons, and even Paul Millsap (whose 3pt shot has received much attention) has averaged a shade under 10 3pt makes in his last three seasons.

The NBA has had a lot of power forwards with great low-post games, and they’ve had a lot of power forward’s with great mid-range games – but there’s never been a power forward who had as potent a combination of interior scoring and mid-range jump shooting as Karl Malone.

Malone jumper

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Karl Malone - The Ultimate Power Forward

This is Part 1 of “The Ultimate Power Forward” series, detailing several of the key components that made Karl Malone the greatest power forward to ever play the game. Today we’ll take a look at Karl Malone’s complete low-post repertoire.

Before looking at that and other components over the next several days (including face-up game/perimeter shooting, running the floor, defense, passing and pick&roll ability), a few of Malone’s basic yet elite abilities must be noted. Above all, Malone’s rare blend of size, agility, strength, explosiveness, and speed – combined with a competitive drive and superior work ethic are what really set him apart. I fully believe Malone could have remained the raw and relatively unskilled young player who entered the league and still averaged close to 20&10 simply from his relentlessness and raw physical gifts.

Looking past many of the baskets Malone scored at point-blank range due to establishing deep post position (partially due to his superior strength and partially due to Utah’s great cross-screen action as well as phenomenal post-entry/lob passing), here are the skill components of Karl Malone’s offensive arsenal in the low-post.

(Note: This encompasses much of what was listed in a previous post, but now includes custom video highlights to fully encapsulate Malone’s complete low-post repertoire.)

Left-block repertoire: Sweeping hook shot going middle, could roll into lane for over-hand baby-hook, roll into lane for under-hand scoop shot, pseudo-left-shoulder jump hook in which he kept both hands on the ball until it was above his shoulders, dribble-pound fade-away jumper off left-shoulder (middle) and right-shoulder (baseline), no-dribble half-turn fade-away.

Right-block repertoire: Pseudo-jump hook keeping both hands on ball and kissing it off the glass, right-shoulder fall-away off both left leg and right leg, and a very reliable and oft-used Jack Sikma face-up fall-away jumper.

The brilliance to all of these moves/shots are the way they complement each other. Malone liked to move into the lane for that little hook shot, but when defenders kept their arms high to challenge that – Malone developed an incredibly difficult scoop-shot to slip in beneath the defender’s outstretched arms. Malone shot a left-block fallaway going to the middle, but when you over-played that or brought help from the top, he would spin and shoot the baseline fallaway. When teams would aggressively dig down on the block as soon as Malone put the ball on the floor, Malone developed a quick half-turn fade-away he could shoot before the defense could react.


The more you look at a player like Dwight Howard who has struggled to develop much of an offensive repertoire beyond jump hooks (for awhile Dwight had a nice right-hand hook rolling into the lane), the more you appreciate Karl Malone’s skillset and work ethic to add one low-post move after another until he had a complete arsenal of moves that when combined with his superior physicality – made him virtually unguardable for opposing power forwards in the post.

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